Public Relations at Home
There’s no doubt that our jobs can influence the way we handle things at home. If you’re a Mom this is especially true. Thanks to Veronica Hunt for sharing how her career has influenced her parenting!
As a Public Relations (PR) professional for more than 20-years, I work with clients to develop and disseminate key messages that influence behavior and establish credibility. Who knew that I’d employ the same principles at home with my tween daughter?
On a school night my daughter was faced with having to study for a math chapter test (a subject she struggles with) or go to swim practice (she’s been working hard to improve her breaststroke). I wanted her to study but left it up to her to decide. Using persuasive thinking and sticking to key message points about school being a priority and doing what’s easiest not always being a smart choice, we talked about the consequences of each decision i.e. go to practice and risk getting a poor test result which could lower the C+ she’s worked so hard to earn, or stay home and work harder at swim practice two-days later.
Uniforms are required at my daughter’s school, so any occasion to showcase “regular” clothes with classmates is a big event. We were climbing out of the car to attend a Friday night social and pot luck dinner at the school when my younger child spilled spaghetti sauce on my daughter’s jeans ruining the look my tween had been planning for weeks. Screaming and tears turned to fury towards her sibling and me! Cue my all-important crisis communications and reputation management skills. I quickly ran in, dropped off the spaghetti and raced home, explaining that accidents happen and it’s always smart to have a plan B. I asked her what she was planning to wear to her friend’s party next weekend so she could substitute outfits. No one had seen her in the spaghetti-riddled jeans, and she could wear that next week. We were fashionably late, but the crisis was managed. Her reputation as a “cool dresser” (who knew!) was saved.
Spend 10 minutes reading any number of mom and dad blogs, and you’ll soon learn that as kids go from child to tween, there is a significant change in the way they view and perceive their parents. It’s interesting to me that as I strive to educate myself on how to work with my tween, I find counsel that I offer my clients:
- Communicate effectively and often – talk about issues before they arise
- Stay engaged and connected – show interest
- Set aside some face time and listen – don’t push an agenda and follow through, do what you say
- Lead by example – demonstrate responsibility
- Apologize when you are wrong – recognize when you fall short
In my quest to get smart, I find myself employing basic PR tactics to reap knowledge, better understand my daughter and keep her trust:
- Case studies – talking to parents who have had children for 20+ years and learning what worked well
- Focus groups and surveys – addressing and dissecting the topic at social gatherings with other parents
- Spokespeople– positioning teenage and young adult nieces and nephews to champion my cause
- Content development – I’ve been lucky enough to have a few articles published; this blog post should help too!
I’m optimistic that as I learn more, stay on message and stay calm, I’ll be able to survive this personal PR challenge. Many years ago I made a career decision between marine biology or PR. I had no clue this decision would help me with my greatest job in life – being a parent.